It’s rare for a game this early in the season to have such big implications. With a win the Riders take the season series over the Stamps and a 4 game lead in the standings. That's massive. For Calgary, they can’t afford to go 0-4 against the west to start the year if they are aiming any higher than a crossover. The only thing bigger than the implications of this game is the length of our injury list. It will soon feature an entire starting 45 worth of players and qualify under Elections Canada rules to have its own Member of Parliament. This week we added Lanier, Milligan and Council to a list that already featured 5 starting WRs and 3 starting OL.
Calgary is basically the bizzarro Riders at this point. The world is crumbling around us but dammit if we don’t have a rock solid QB. The Stamps are actually pretty solid everywhere except they are crumbling because of their QB. The crazy thing is that despite Maier struggling they still made the right call in choosing him over Bo.
You might think I’m being harsh on Maier but the stats don’t lie. He’s got a solid run game (2nd in yds per rush) and great OL (second least sacks allowed). So its not like he’s being hung out to dry. He has 2 TD’s to 6 INTs. He has the lowest completion % of any starting QB and that includes Edmonton and Ottawa who aren’t exactly the picture of QB stability. He is completing an abysmal 14% of his deep passes (you almost have to try to be that bad). He has completed as many passes over 20 yards to opposing teams as his own players. His sucktitude on the deep ball has forced Calgary to become check down city as his average gain per pass is 6.8 yards (only Ottawa is worse). And with all that scathing commentary now penned he is absolutely going to rip us to shreds out of spite, isn’t he?
Defense has not been good this season. They are the 7th ranked D in the CFL and given that Edmonton doesn’t really count as a team that puts us second worst effectively. They have avoided most major injuries up until now though I do believe guys have been playing nicked up. So a struggling D will now be without their best 2 players in Lanier and Milligan. Not ideal. But facing Maier we still got a chance. Force the man to throw. He’s not a threat to run so than means taking away the run game. Also take away the quick easy passes. He’s a liability when chucking deep so make him play to his weakness. Tough ask without Lanier but some pressure would be nice. Maybe even a sack. Make life uncomfortable for Maier. He fell apart at home when things got tough. On the road when the crowd gets on him it won’t be easier. I can only assume he will hear my boos raining down from the second deck and let a single tear fall in sadness.
I will say this. I guarantee… GUARANTEE, they will try and get Marshall on a double move this week. As much as I know he’s licking his lips at the prospect of further padding his stats, he needs to stay assignment sound and not force it or he's giving up a long one. If he’s patient, Maier will find him.
Offensively I won’t say I’m the most optimistic. We scored 12 points on the worst team in the CFL last week. The only change in offensive personnel is a back-up OT. This will be a grind. It would help if we can get Morrow/Hickson going. Awe and Judge are studs and will make that tough but we need some yards on the ground. In the pass game, receivers have to get open. Harris is a great QB but not a miracle worker. It can’t all be on Mitch Picton… though seriously give the guy a few more looks. He knows how to find space. This where our OC needs to earn his pay find some ways to get Bane open or use some misdirection to get a guy like Watson open downfield. With Maier being mistake prone and our O needing to grind it out, we can’t afford Harris’ weekly INT this game. Protect the ball, let's not make this harder than it already will be.
If we want a win, I really think its going to take Alford taking one to the house. A game changing play like that on Teams can really give us the boost we need in what I think will be a very close game. He’s gotta be due right? Speaking of special teams, how odd is it to see Paredes and Lauther as 2 of the worst kickers in the CFL at 75% on the season?
Everything about this match-up screams Calgary win… except QB, which just so happens to be the most important position. This team is giving me slight 2008 vibes. In that season we started 6-1 and just kept winning despite breaking 2-3 key fibulas each game. Eventually that group ran out of gas and they had more talent that this group. It just feels like that is sneaking up on this team, either this week or next. I think we can win but I’m not betting on it. We keep it close but…
Stamps by a Paredes FG